COVID vaccine live updates: Here’s what to know in North Carolina on Dec. 4

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We’re tracking the most up-to-date information about the coronavirus and vaccines in North Carolina. Check back for updates.

More than 3,000 new cases reported

At least 1,544,544 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 18,825 have died since March 2020, according to state health officials.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday, Dec. 3, reported 3,720 new COVID-19 cases, down from 3,780 on Thursday.

Eighteen coronavirus-related deaths were also added Dec. 3. Health officials don’t specify the dates on which newly reported deaths occurred.

At least 1,202 people were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Dec. 3, including 316 adults being treated in intensive care units, health officials said.

As of Dec. 1, the latest date with available information, 7.1% of coronavirus tests were reported positive. Health officials say 5% or lower is the target rate to slow the spread of the virus.

Roughly 73% of adults in North Carolina have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and about 69% have been fully vaccinated. Out of the state’s total population, about 57% are fully vaccinated and 61% have received at least one dose. State officials round vaccination numbers to the nearest whole number.

Principal in lawsuit says he was fired over mask rules, hiring

The principal of a Triangle-area charter school said he was fired in part because he backed a plan that required students and workers to wear face masks.

In a lawsuit, Brian Bauer said he lost his job “for his hiring of racially diverse staff and/or his insistence on enforcement of the school’s Reopening Plan,” which included mask and quarantine requirements.

Bauer was a Charter Schools USA employee who had been hired to work at Cardinal Charter Academy in Cary in July. He was out of a job about two months later.

Lawyers representing Charter Schools USA didn’t immediately return requests for comment from The News & Observer.

Tourist alert: NC mountain county extends mask mandate

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in their N.C. mountain communities, Buncombe County commissioners recently extended the county mask mandate for all public spaces through Jan. 5

The county includes Asheville, Biltmore Forest, Black Mountain, Montreat, Weaverville, and Woodfin.

“Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases continue to increase after a high level plateau,” Public Health Director Stacie Saunders posted on the county health department website. “The percent positivity is now consistently above 5% again, and we are likely to see a further increase” from the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to the way the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines COVID rates, Buncombe remains an area of high transmission, according to the county health department post. “The percent positivity remains in the moderate category, and the death rate remains in the substantial category.”

On Facebook, commissioners’ Chairman Brownie Newman said he wouldn’t have supported extending the mandate if not for the new Omicron variant.

“To a large degree, Covid has become a serious health risk primarily for those who are making the choice not to be vaccinated,” Newman posted. “I am reluctant to maintain intrusive measures on everyone as a result of the choices other people make.”

COVID vaccine grants awarded statewide

Twenty-one organizations across North Carolina received grants totaling a half-million dollars to support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, state health officials said Friday.

Grants will pay for efforts to get more people their first, second and additional or booster vaccines, according to a news release by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Bella Nissen, 10, left gets a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine from Amy Pinkston at the Novant East Mecklenburg vaccine clinic in Charlotte, on Nov. 4, 2021.
Bella Nissen, 10, left gets a dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine from Amy Pinkston at the Novant East Mecklenburg vaccine clinic in Charlotte, on Nov. 4, 2021.

In an initial funding round in June, 27 organizations received similar grants that reached more than 400,000 residents in 50 counties about the availability of vaccines near them, officials said.

Grants were awarded by Healthier Together, a public-private partnership between the state DHHS and the nonprofit, nonpartisan NC Counts Coalition.

Anxiety over violent passengers grinds on for flight attendants

Before going to work every morning, one Charlotte-based flight attendant prays at home.

The Piedmont Airlines flight attendant said she already was spiritual. Since COVID-19? Her job has been much more nerve-wracking, she said.

Unruly passengers are at an all-time high in the U.S, with more than 5,400 reports this year, and the Federal Aviation Administration initiated more than 1,000 investigations. That’s a huge jump from 183 investigations last year and 146 in 2019.

Many are related to the federal mask requirement for airports and air travel. Nearly 4,000 of the 5,442 incidents reported to the FAA involve mask issues.

“I was having a lot more anxiety going to work,” the flight attendant said. “Oh gosh, is today going to be the day” that passengers would act up with her.

She’s worked for Piedmont, an American Airlines subsidiary, for four years, and has been based at Charlotte Douglas International Airport for a year. “But now it’s a completely different job,” she said.

Mecklenburg adds more COVID-19 at-home test kit pick-up sites

Starting Monday , free COVID-19 at-home test kits will be available at more sites around Mecklenburg County.

No prescription from a health care provider is required, officials said in a news release Friday.

Diane Bell opens instructions included in a home test kit for at her home on April 21 in Greenville, N.C.
Diane Bell opens instructions included in a home test kit for at her home on April 21 in Greenville, N.C.

Sites include seven Charlotte Mecklenburg library branches and Mecklenburg County Public Health – Southeast.

Kits will be available while supplies last. Health officials are considering more locations depending on demand and available supply.:

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